Summer Nelson’s story would definitely not be part of the popular juvenile book series, The Babysitter’s Club. (Maybe an adult-movie parody of that series.) But Summer Nelson was the babysitter of a 14-year-old Idaho boy until the boy’s mother began suspecting that that the babysitter wasn’t just watching her 14-year-old baby. Summer Nelson (of Post Falls, Idaho) not only allegedly had had sex with the boy, she had had sex with him on multiple occasions. And not only had Summer Nelson been paying particularly close attention to the Idaho teen, but she had told his siblings that she loved him.
The story of Summer Nelson would not be so terrible if Summer Nelson was 16 or 17 years old. But she is not. She passed those teen years a decade ago. Summer Nelson is 28, making her voluntary babysitting activity a crime.
Summer Nelson was charged Monday with four counts of lewd conduct with a child, according to court records. KXLY-TV reported Tuesday that Idaho police say that Summer Nelson, who was a friend of the teen’s mother, was hired by the mother to watch her 14-year-old son.
Summer Nelson was hired by the mother to watch her three children (aged 9, 12, and 14) in August 2007.
“Apparently, Summer had stated to others how she was in love with the 14-year-old boy and that she could not understand how it was wrong for the two of them to be together,” Lt. Pat Knight told The Weekly Vice.
The alleged sexual abuse was reported in December 2008 after the mother of the teen became suspicious of the amount of attention Summer Nelson seemed to be giving her son. A 7-month investigation into the matter found that Summer Nelson had told the boy’s siblings that she was in love with their brother. They also discovered that the “babysitter” had had sex with the teen at least four times.
Summer Nelson remains in the Kootenai County (Idaho) Jail. Her bond is set at $50,000. According to The Weekly Vice, she told police,
But Summer Nelson’s story is just the latest in a never-ending stream of stories of sexual abuse perpetrated by adults on minors. Many of those stories involve people in professional positions of authority, such as teachers and priests, vocations where the adult has an authoritative position whereby they are in a position of control over the minor. In many cases, it is that position of authority that is used to the pedophile’s advantage.
The job of babysitter is much the same. It is a position of authority despite its innocuous sounding label. And it has the relative advantage of being inside the child’s comfort zone, the home. Like a teacher or priest, it is a position of ultimate trust, where the adult has been conditioned to believe that they can leave their child and feel relatively safe that that individual in that position of responsibility will do nothing untoward with regard to their child.
If the babysitter also happens to be a friend of the family and a trusted adult, the layers of wrongness can become blurred and confusing for the child. And it this blurring of appropriate boundaries that the pedophile — in this case, the babysitter — uses to their advantage. And if the target — in this case, a teen boy — is sexually curious or harboring thoughts of sexual conquest (a fairly common fantasy where a younger “inexperienced” individual has sex with a more “sophisticated” adult), these, too, can be used to the pedophile’s advantage.
There seems to be a social relaxation when it comes to protecting children (including teen boys and girls) from pedophiles. The stories of Mary Kay Letourneau and hundreds of other teachers, not to mention priests and pedophiles from various walks of life, tend to get sensationalized, offering a focus for many. Focusing on certain vocations, like teaching and the priesthood, drops society’s guard against all the others.
And this becomes a great disservice to our children, setting them up for potential abuse. Because pedophiles are not relegated to specific vocational categorizations. Protecting children from just the pedophile teachers and priests simply because they are the focus of the popular media leaves children unprotected against pedophiles that exist in other job classifications and positions of trust.
Like babysitters. Babysitters like Summer Nelson.
Child AbuseWatch.net reports that 1 in 4 young girls are sexually abused before they reach the age of 18 (statistics from Centers for Disease Control). They further note that 1 in 6 young boys are sexually abused by the time they turn 18. And nearly 70% of all reported sexual abuse cases (which includes adult cases) occur to children 17 years of age or younger (National Center for Juvenile Justice).
Half of all cases of sexual abuse are committed by someone outside of the family sphere that are known by the family and trusted.
Social denial and individual willful ignorance are not excuses for the prevalence of childhood sexual abuse. They are a failing.
For resources concerning child sexual abuse, go to Child AbuseWatch.net.